Did the Trump Administration Just Have an Obama Sue-and-Settle Case Blow up on Them?

One of the many stellar defense and economic policies of the Trump administration has been to reduce the mindless regulatory burden imposed on the oil and gas extraction industries and encourage them to reach their full potential. The economic impact has been significant. Under the leadership of Trump officials, US oil and gas production has catapulted us to the leading crude oil producer in the world. That translates not only into jobs but into economic activity and reduced energy costs to US citizens and businesses. From a national defense point of view, increased production of oil and gas makes us less vulnerable to foreign pressure and provides us with more strategic options.


Both the availability of (comparatively) cheap energy and American independence from foreign energy suppliers has run afoul of the Hate America gang and the climate change idolators. On Monday, an Obama appointed federal judge temporarily halted the development of 282 gas and oil leases on some 303,000 acres in Wyoming (read the decision).

A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the Interior Department violated federal law by failing to take into account the climate impact of its oil and gas leasing in the West.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of Washington could force the Trump administration to account for the full climate impact of its energy-dominance agenda, and it could signal trouble for the president’s plan to boost fossil fuel production across the country. Contreras concluded that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling under President Barack Obama in 2015 and 2016. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on about 300,000 acres of land in the state.

The initial ruling in the case, brought by the advocacy groups WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, has implications for oil and gas drilling on federal land throughout the West. In the decision, Contreras — an Obama appointee — faulted the agency’s environmental assessments as inadequate because they did not detail how individual drilling projects contribute to the nation’s overall carbon output. Since greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change, the judge wrote, these analyses did not provide policymakers and the public with a sufficient understanding of drilling’s impact, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.


This story begins in 2015 when the Obama administration was ending and its stated mission of destroying American coal mining and oil and gas extraction was incomplete. As you recall, the Obama administration was infamous for its sue-and-settle policy. It would announce regulations, invite leftwing groups to sue the agency, the agency would have deliberately created a hard-to-defend rationale and would enter into a consent decree. This enabled the Obama administration to use leftwing interest groups as a stalking horse to enlist the federal judiciary in its efforts to lock in economy-wrecking policies without Congress being able to bestir its fat, dimpled ass. I don’t know that this is what happened in this case but the fact pattern hints that Contreras’s ruling was the policy coming to fruition:
a. The administration knew that leasing federal lands would drive the enviro-nazis nuts,
b. Despite the knowledge of a sure lawsuit, the administration elected to issue the very bare-bones and minimalist Environmental Assessment rather than the more time-consuming Environmental Impact Statement,
c. From the court record, it seems that even the minimal analysis was done in a very shoddy way.
This would allow the Obama administration to get the political backslapping from leasing the land for exploration and, at the same time, throw a federal lawsuit that would result in the leases being declared void and locking up millions of acres from commercial use.

While the ruling isn’t necessarily permanent, it provides a roadmap to enviro-nazis to attack virtually all gas and oil leases on federal land. Contreras ruled that the National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to factor in each well’s contribution to the nation’s “greenhouse gas” output.


“Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change, considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land.”

Wyoming pointed out that such analysis is impossible because no one knows how many wells will actually be drilled here. But to no avail. The agenda must be carried out. Rest assured, we will see this again:

“This ruling highlights a significant and, we believe, fatal flaw in every oil and gas lease sale held by BLM in Utah throughout the [President Donald] Trump administration,” said Stephen Bloch, SUWA’s legal director.

“Over the past two years, BLM has been hard at work implementing the administration’s outlandish ‘energy dominance’ agenda with the result being that hundreds of new leases have been sold in Utah’s wildest and most culturally significant landscapes; places like southeast Utah’s Four Corners region, San Rafael Desert, and Book Cliffs have been blanketed with oil and gas leases,” Bloch added. “Fortunately, Judge Contreras’ decision gives us a powerful tool to undo this mischief.”

I think, eventually, that this statement will be seen as a fanciful interpretation of the law and one that requires agencies to engage in interminable speculation. Moreover, because greenhouse gases don’t stay in one nation, the underlying assumption in Contreras’s ruling is that there will be no other drilling anywhere in the world to make up for the gas and oil on these leases. Also implied in the ruling is that the belief in human-caused climate change is actually science and has outcomes and impacts that can be calculated instead of the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo that it is.


Until then, it is pretty clear that the ability of the administration to issue leases for gas and oil exploration on federal land is going to be severely circumscribed.


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